PCES Conference 2017: The Big Questions.

Our recent conference on the 18th and 19th of March was wonderful. For that weekend, University place was full of ideas and proposals from all kinds of people. There were raised voices at times, there were feelings also, at times of immense clarity, but more than anything it was just really interesting.

There were over 20 talks over the course of the weekend. Richard Murphy’s one for example, was on tax avoidance and evasion and its effect on society. The level of energy and enthusiasm, and the insight he gave us on the true nature of tax avoidance. The picture that he painted provided gave us a good idea of the scale of tax avoidance and how corrosive this really is. It seemed almost comical how easily certain people and companies can avoid tax. But when we remember what our tax pays for the laughter is replaced by a kind of indignance. Especially during the last election when the feeling was very much that ‘we’ve run out of money’, and that thus we could ‘no longer afford’ to be splashing money on public services.

The ‘Civil Discussion’ with Bob Kerslake was also very insightful, and similar to past events felt very much like an inside scoop on the world. Bob identified a number of regional imbalances within the UK such as London’s responsibility for 40% of UK output, despite as we know, only representing a tiny part of the UK. He suggested regional devolution in England into large areas as a more appropriate means of governance, along with some other suggestions, thereby stimulating a discussion within the room that saw us through to our coffee break.

In fact it was somewhat frustrating that so many interesting talks were on at the same time. Having to decide between a discussion with a leading civil servant and a breakdown of the basic income from some of it’s leading proponents was hard. This leads us to consider streaming or recording the talks in order to combat this agonising choice. The quality and content and insight of what was being said was a little wasted on it just being one room that could hear it.

Well done and thank you to all those organising the conference, and to all those who gave up part of their weekend to come and speak. And a special thank you to Hannah for coordinating the whole thing.

Tony Scott gave a wonderful summary of his experience at the conference which is worth reading: https://tonyscott.org.uk/2017/04/01/i-went-to-the-post-crash-economics-society-conference-2017/

Come along to our event on inequality with our keynote speaker Sam Bowles on May 4th, you can find this on our Facebook page.

 

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